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A note from Thedude3445

This week, I don't recommend a whole book, but just one short story, "A Broken Clock." Please read it and tell me how you like it. Or better yet, tell the author himself.

I look out the limousine window and gaze at the dry, wispy sights of Los Angeles, California. Not a Destiny Point to be had with these sights, or lack thereof.

This city is said to be one of the most populous, most famous in the entire world. And yet... it’s not exactly a sight to behold???

I’m awestruck by how not-awestruck I am.

“Can we really gain many Destiny Points in a place like this?” I wonder aloud.

Delta shakes her head slowly. “I can tell already, Los Angeles was a mistake. We should have just gone to Las Vegas.”

“What’s that?” I ask.

“A place with strippers, casinos, and impromptu weddings.”

“That sounds magnificent,” I say. “A place for the greatest antics the Systemless Squad could offer. The three of us would conquer such a place with great triumph.”

Delta takes a look at the brooding Francis in the seat across from her. “Well...”

Francis’s mood has completely and utterly soured. He won’t explain why, no matter how many times I have pestered him about it. He just sits there and sulks about, um, something.

I think about pestering him again, but Delta shuts me down. “Don’t bother,” she says. “He won’t talk. But I’LL tell you plenty when we arrive, because you deserve to know.”

“Deserve to know... What?”

“It’s a long and terrible story,” she says.

Francis, at this, puts in earbuds and blasts music at such a volume that I can hear the faint anime opening song through his speaker. The singer is crooning something about teamwork and feeling emotional distress.

“Well, it can’t be as long and terrible as this remarkably uneventful ride,” I say. “We are in a quite fancy vehicle, and yet there are no amenities. No food or drink or a special television set or any of that...”

“That’s the Taylor way,” Delta mutters. “Really should have done Vegas.”

“Mhm.” I try to think of something to kill time as our vehicle winds through mindless neighborhood streets that sport increasingly large (and increasingly ghastly) houses. “Oh! You mentioned impromptu weddings.”

“Yes. Did you do that while we were in Simi Valley...?”

“No, of course, not,” I say. “What, do you take me for a fool who commits brash deeds for no other reason than my mind is not fully focused on the facts at hand?”

“...”

“No. What I wanted to say is: The Destiny Deck System actually has a Wedding function itself. I have declined to mention it so far, but it’s indeed fairly fascinating.”

I take a side-eye glance at Francis to see if he will budge and look in my direction. He does not.

“Oh, yeah, you got married so you could have your four children,” Delta says.

“No! Not that. That was not marriage; that was my duty as a member of the Solbourne clan. And it had nothing to do with Destiny Points or any of that.”

“So then what does it do?” she asks, uncharacteristically curious. I wonder if she’s just trying to make up for Francis’s also-uncharacteristic broodingness.

“Well, once you become a D-Rank hero, you unlock several system functions that were locked up until that point. Along with new Destiny Card slots and more Life Points, you also gain the ability to customize your HUD to your liking, although I keep mine in the default settings. You also gain the Wedding function, whose description reads as this:

“’Marry another system user to gain a combined Destiny Deck. One-time offer; divorce not offered.’

“Once two system users marry, they pool their Destiny Deck together, and so their classes and ranks can combine for extreme utility. It is also said to increase the chances of a holographic card drawing, but that is merely rumor.”

“Huh. Not as neat as I thought it would be.”

“It’s a little underwhelming, I will admit...”

“So you’re still unmarried in the system, right?”

“Of course. Tying the knot too early can lead to disaster if your system spouse is not adequately powerful, or if they are in a class that will not benefit you, or if they die very early on and leave you with nothing.”

Delta motions over to Francis with her eyebrows alone.

“He does not possess the system,” I say.

“Just get one of those sorting things and fix that,” she says. “You’re made for each other.”

I laugh, partially to put her off this ludicrous train of thought. “I could not obtain a Sorting Scepter at all. There is no way for me to build one on my own, for the magical energy they possess is far too great for the Earth. And I cannot bring things into this world via my dreams because I lack corporeal form there. In fact I cannot do—“

It all hits me at once, so much that I nearly dare to shout “Eureka!” but instead resort to explaining it out loud: “I CAN bring things into this world via my dreams. I am a fool. I have an inventory system, and I have the ability to summon Destiny Card skills through my dreams! Holy Hells, Delta, I can bring a Sorting Scepter to Earth! ...If I find one.”

“If you find one.”

“They’re exceedingly uncommon. Only a few hundred are known to have ever existed, and fewer still remain in active use.”

And, of course, the fact that where my dream left off I was sent careening down a cliff after the Demon Queen Mestopholees betrayed us for reasons unknown, but that part is not quite as relevant to our strictly hypothetical conversation.

“Well, you’ve got a good mission, then,” Delta says. “But I think I’ve stopped caring about the system stuff again, so I’m going to tap out of this conversation.” She pulls up her phone and begins flicking through it, presumably to read the pure essence of yaoi mangas.

Soon, though, the limousine pulls up to an extremely large house. The vehicle must be buzzed in at the front gate, a sure sign of the grandeur of this location.

The limousine pulls up to the front of this magnificent mansion, with architecture that is actually decent rather than gaudy and unappealing. There is heart and wealth behind the design and atmosphere here, and I actually want to step out. A place befitting of royalty, or at least those who have briefly touched that realm of royalty with their connections.

No Destiny Points, though. Damn.

The driver opens the door for us and beckons us out of the limousine.

In front of us now are two ladies. One is a young woman with long hair and a very familiar face. The other is being held in that young woman’s arms; she is a toddler with pudgy arms and an inquisitive face.

They both look at us with a rehearsed warmth, and the young woman says, “Oh my God, France! Look at you!”

“Hi, Taylor,” he says, refusing to make eye contact with her.

Taylor, this young woman, runs up and embraces Francis. The toddler does as well. “You’ve gotten a little fat, haven’t you?”

“Nice to see you too, Taylor,” Francis responds in a barely concealed growl.

“Who are these people?” I ask Delta in a slight hush.

“Taylor Bacall,” Delta says. “Francis’s little sister. And Victoria Bacall, her daughter.”

Oh... Oh my.

We’ve stepped into a world of family drama and gossipy intrigue.

Despite all my years as an [Adventurer] and all my experience on Earth these many days, I don’t know if I’m ready for this at all.

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A note from Thedude3445

I can't think of anything to shill in the end notes this time, but I still have to type something anyway because everyone expects it by now


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About the author

Thedude3445

Bio: I like to watch movies.

Avatar art by Mikayla Buan. https://twitter.com/mikayla_buan

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